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The Top 5 Most Common Travel Scams

March 15, 2019

Sadly, wherever you are in the world, there will always be a few ‘bad people’ who may try to take advantage of you and leave you out of pocket. These selfish scammers have a knack of convincing you that they are honest trustworthy people, when in reality they view you as a vulnerable tourist, who is easy to manipulate.

When you go on holiday, the last thing you want is a further expense, especially when it’s unnecessary and unjustified (not to mention illegal). That’s why we’ve found the most common travel scams to look out for, and come up with a solution of how to avoid getting sucked into a holiday nightmare!

travelling essentials including map, compass, money and sun hat

Broken Taxi Meter

Scenario: Taxi drivers situated near airports or train stations are renowned for pulling a fast one and claiming their taxi meter doesn’t work. This tends to be once you’re in the car and on the road to your destination. They then demand a hideous amount of taxi fare, and who are you to argue? There’s no taxi meter, so no proof of what you should have been paying.

How to avoid this: If you know you require transportation during your trip, then it’s best to book the taxi in advance and agree on a price ahead of the time. If you do happen to need a taxi sporadically and don’t have time to book, ask if the meter is working before you step foot in the car. If the driver starts making excuses, then wait for the next one! Trust us- it’s not worth racking up a bill for a 10-minute ride.

Free Stuff

Scenario: Us Brits’ love a freebie. However, as the saying goes, nothing in life is free. Unless you have gone all-inclusive, everything on holiday comes at a price. You’ll find as you’re walking through some touristy towns abroad, people will approach you for a friendly chat and before you know it you’ve got a sprig of rosemary in your hand (it’s good luck supposedly). As soon the rosemary is within your grip, you’re expected to pay for it. Refusal to pay can result in a scene and sometimes being hurled abuse at – which quite frankly is just embarrassing.

How to avoid this: Avoid eye contact and dismiss any conversation with people trying to sell items you’re not interested in. Do not stop to engage with them, but politely say no thank you. It may seem rude but it’s better to avoid – unless you do actually want to buy a sprig of herbs.

Closed Attraction

Scenario: On the face of it, you probably wouldn’t even realise this was a scam, however it is in fact very common especially in popular tourist areas. A local (often friendly with exceptionally good English) will come over to you and explain that the attraction you were off to is closed. This could be for religious reasons, holidays, basically anything that would leave you unsuspecting. They will then take you somewhere else, which is ridiculously overpriced and pressure you until you give in and pay.

How to avoid this: This is an uncomfortable situation, and sadly tends to victimise older people. If a local speaks excellent English and really wants to take you somewhere, that should ring alarm bells immediately. Head to an information desk or shop which is selling tickets to attractions and ask them if something is open. The ticket counter depends on sales- so the last thing they are going to do is lose out on money by telling you the attraction is shut if it isn’t.

Taking Photos

Scenario: A holiday is the perfect time to get some family snaps that you can add to the photo album. However, getting one with everyone in it can be difficult, especially in busy places where you don’t want to put your camera down and set a timer. Locals may offer to take a group photo of you all. However, whilst you’re getting in position it has been known for people to disappear, taking your camera with them!

How to avoid this: This is a difficult situation. People can appear genuine and not everyone offers to take a photo just to thieve your camera. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so we advise you not to hand your belongings over to anyone, under any circumstances. You have to ask yourself how important the photo is, surely nothing’s worth getting your expensive camera taken?

ATM Helper

Scenario: A lot of people refuse to use their cards abroad, however, there comes a time at some point in every holiday where you just need a bit of extra cash. Local bank fees can be pricey and so you may have a ‘friendly’ local who is in the know when it comes to avoiding these charges. When you’re not looking, they will scan your card with a card skimmer, watch you enter your pin and then have some fun with your account- spending all your money.

How to avoid this: In this type of situation, don’t hand anyone your card, EVER! And if someone is approaching you when you’re at an ATM, just walk away. If someone did that back at home in your local town, you’d think they were rude and nosey- so what’s the difference when you’re abroad?

Scams sadly are common, and it’s important to keep yourself safe when you’re abroad. Always be cautious and no matter how friendly someone appears, don’t engage in a situation that could land you in trouble. We offer a range of insurance and policy add-on’s including a gadget extension to cover you if your phone or other device gets stolen.

At the end of the day, when you’re away ask yourself this: Would I do this if you were at home? If the answer’s no, then AVOID the situation. Safe travels!


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